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Opinions of Friday, 19 February 2016

Columnist: Quaye, Stephen A.

Propaganda journalism in Ghana





February 16, 2016.

“propaganda journalism in ghana”





The management of “OK F.M.” a popular electronic medium in Ghana has apologized to its listeners, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong and others.

Neatly captured on the website of Peace F.M. a sister station is the heading, Despite Group renders Apology to listeners, Ken Agyapong, etc….”

Mr. Kennedy Ohene Agyapong has responded to the apology by assuring all that he will cease fire and expressed compassion for his attacker Valentina Afia Agyeiwaa or Afia Schwarzenegger.

Now that there has been admittance of offence followed by apology and acceptance from the offended, it makes it open to discuss the issue further.

The simple question many people are asking is who manages who, who edits what, who produces what and possibly who monitors’ who?”

If the structure of despite group of companies is not to malign, denigrate, insults against personalities in society as the company wants some of us to believe then it must do the right thing to serve as deterrent to others.

Failure by management to let the axe fall on its staff who insults personalities against it structure as it wants some of us to believe, I will be right to say they are rewarding “junk journalism”.

It is one thing to understand the difference between an opinion journalist and a partisan propaganda journalist in Ghana now.

Living up to that distinction can be harder as friendships; opportunities and flattery are all conspiring to seduce true journalists to cross the line to partisan propaganda journalist.

That is why it has become fashionable in recent times to wonder who is and is not a journalist.

One may think this is the wrong question whiles others may also challenge that it is indeed a right question at this particular moment where JOURNALISM is facing a lot of problems.

The question people should ask is not whether someone is called a journalist. Rather the important issue is whether or not the person is doing journalism.

The meaning of freedom of speech and the freedom of the press as Mr.A.C.Ohene, my former editor at the Ghanaian Chronicle kept reminding me, are that they belong to everyone.

But, communication and journalism are not interchangeable terms that is why he believes that,” anyone can be a journalist but not everyone can be a journalist”.

There are three criteria that I use and still remind myself of in my quest to remain a journalist-one with a point of view.

First and foremost is the ultimate commitment to the truth meaning not relating anything to my readers that in the end will turn out to be false.

The next criteria was that “I can be partisan, an opinion journalist, and still have a high obligation to be fair to those whom I disagreed” which relates to the sense of obligation to my readers.

That required being “open with my readers, to make it clear to the audience what my views are and what my biases are” which has made me stand out as a journalist and not a propaganda journalist.

Real fact is that the profession of journalism in Ghana these days is facing a lot of problems that needs to be tackled immediately before something happens before we ask ourselves what happened.

Ah, is that profession I practiced whiles in Ghana under the noble men and women of distinction as editors, managers and association leaders?

A lot has changed from the period of practice under the leadership of Madam Gifty Afenyie Dadzie, Yaw Boadu Ayeboafu and Ransford Tetteh’s as distinguish leaders of Ghana Journalist Association GJA, who insisted on professionalism, code of conducts and respect for the journalist.

From my own spectacle watching what goes on in journalism, I can bet that a lot has changed in the sector which is serving as a source of worry for many people.

As a journalist myself when criticizing the work I profess, on what has gone wrong, going wrong and needs to be corrected, I often used my former publishers, editors, seniors and association leaders on what they taught me to make journalism excel.

After all what on earth can the prolific ramblings of sometimes past journalists have to do with the mission work of journalism? It turns out –a lot.

Although others might debate the merits of former editors, journalists and publishers as well as association leaders abilities, I am a firm believer that there is no one who can challenge that they sat down and watched “junk journalism” to go on.


Mr. Kofi Koomson, the publisher of the Ghanaian Chronicle with his team of managers showed the importance of ensuring that all respected the bargaining agreement signed between staff and management.

At the regional office of the paper in Koforidua a decade ago, Mr. A.C.Ohene as the editor will go through every report with his “big red pen” to ensure accuracy before it goes to the press.

And the GJA executives both at regional and national levels keep monitoring the performance of journalists and media houses to offer advice and training on periodic bases to keep members on track.

The story of Valentina Afia Agyeiwaa or Afia Schwarzenegger attacking Kennedy Ohene Agyapong on radio was not lacking in spontaneity.

Her post with politicians such as Ibrahim Mahama the brother of President John Dramani Mahama and others will let one quickly suggest friendships; opportunities and flattery conspired to seduce her to run down Kennedy Agyapong.

It has become a common practice where journalists sit on radio and television stations to attack politicians and goes scot free providing the platform for such junk journalism to go on.

Back in the days of Nana Kofi Koomson, A.C.Ohene, Gifty Afenyie Dadzies where the ten elements of journalism were strictly adhered to hardly would you hear a journalist disgracing the profession to such a point Afia Schwarzenegger did.

The management of Okay F.M. has apologized to Kennedy Agyapong, its listeners and all but it has to ensure that such thing never happens again.

For instance the management can quickly organize an intensive in house training for all staff to sharpen their skills in scouting for news and spreading of news.

The ten elements of journalism, code of conducts and bargaining agreement should be stressed to keep staff busy and professional.

In the next edition, I will like to touch on two elements of journalism which says that,” its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover, it must keep the news comprehensive and in proportion and citizens too have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news”.